The Garden by the River

Giverny 2 2009


“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece” 
Claude Monet

The Seine, rising from Source-Seine, 30 kilometres northwest of Dijon in north-eastern France, is one of the most important waterways within the Paris Basin.  It flows 776 kilometres to the English Channel at Le Havre.  The city of Paris boasts 37 bridges that span the Seine, including the celebrated Pont Louis-Philippe and the ancient Pont Neuf. Outside Paris, the Pont de Normandie, one of the longest cable-stayed bridges, links Le Havre to Honfleur, known for a picturesque port beloved by the Impressionist painters: Gustave Courbet, Eugène Boudin, Claude Monet and Johan Jongkind.

Claude Monet chose the village of Giverny, which is positioned on the right bank of the River Seine where the river Epte meets the Seine, to create his most beautiful masterpiece. The sighting occurred quite by happenstance when Monet looked out a train window on a trip between Vernon and Gasny. It was April 1883, the time of rebirth and transition.  It had been four years since the passing of his young wife, Camille who has succumbed to tuberculosis, September 1879 at the age of thirty-two.  Grief stricken, Monet turned to his art for consolation.  From the vantage point of a train, he knew, at first glance, where he would live and paint for the rest of his life.  He created his dreams and gave us the vision of beauty that came from a garden by the River Seine.

Today marks Claude Monet’s 153rd birthday.

“People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it’s simply necessary to love.”
Claude Monet

91 thoughts on “The Garden by the River

    • Thank you! When you are immersed in Giverny, it is difficult to understand, Claude Monet’s words: “My life has been nothing but a failure.” Even the most brilliant and talented have sustained grief and disappointment. Perhaps that is what takes their creativity beyond themselves…

      • A very interesting thought. Humanity seeks beauty and tries to define and benchmark this “mysterious flow” as a method by which to control its source and power.

        “What we seek, at the deepest level, is inwardly to resemble, rather than physically to possess, the objects and places that touch us through their beauty.”
        ― Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness

  1. I am so glad I don’t have to understand but simply to love. That’s what I do sometimes; I simply look at his paintings and love their loveliness. Total immersion :)

    • I agree…:)

      I gratefully accept the role of the on-looker. There are those who have the talent to create and others, like myself, to appreciate the creation. It seems that artists understand the essence of artistic endeavour. Recall that it was Vincent van Gogh who said, “There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”

  2. Thank you for the wonderful pictures, both your scenery and Monet’s… I hadn’t known the story behind the garden… very touching. Thank you as usual for valuable information !!!…

    • I am finding the stories behind the artists to be the key to understanding their work. Many (and I include myself here) think arts comes forth with dramatic flair – quick and efficient, like Zeus giving birth to Athena. It seems that there is a lot of angst in the creative cauldron.

    • Thank you so much for your kind comments and for adding to the discussion. My visit was in May – how I would love to see the garden in all seasons. I kept on thinking that I would meet Monet himself on one of the pathways…

    • My dear friend, thank you for your gracious comments and reblog. What I learned from my visit to Giverny – if we embrace the necessity to love, we recognize our creative soul….

    • Thank you, Denise! When I visited Giverny, I felt the love that inspired its creation and understood why those who tended the gardens continued in the spirit of the great artist. I felt that, at any moment, I would meet Monet on one of the pathways…

  3. Wow, you’ve got some amazingly colourful pictures there! :D I can totally understand why any artist would have wanted to paint images of that garden! It’s the kind of garden you wish would be your own. I have a bit of a scruffy backyard, largely down to the Landlord who’s paid to keep it tidy but never does! :sad: But, in summer there are some amazing Calla Lilies – giant ones, they make it quite magical for a few weeks of the summer! All I need now is a small lake and maybe a bridge – perfect! ;)

    I love some of Monet’s water lilly paintings. I’ve been trying to paint one just like his for ages, but too many other things to do! :D

    • You have brought up a intuitive idea, which I have been thinking about ever since I read the biography of Georgia O’Keeffe (its her birthday, today, incidentally) I always assumed that artists simply woke up every morning and felt inspired to create a masterpiece – that life wouldn’t encroach on their need to paint. Well, it seems that they need to cook, clean, care for children, shop for groceries. etc. And then there are the emotional issues that are part of our existence. For example, Claude Monet, attempted suicide in 1868, after the birth of his first child. Artists are, in the end, human. I have come to recognize, that creative endeavours take courage and require the support of others. I especially liked the quote by Auguste Renoir

      “Without my dear Monet, who gave us all courage, we would have given up!”

      Thank you so much for adding to the discussion – very much appreciated, my dear friend!

  4. Pingback: Monet’s Weeping Willow | musiqdragonfly

  5. Clanmother, 1st job after the Navy was as a security guard and the National Gallery of Art, in Washington DC. I feel in love with Claude Monet, and the other French Impressionists. I learned more about Art in those 2.5 yrs than have the rest of my life combined. It was a wonderful experience, thank you for such a wonderful post. — Bill

  6. Greatest dream: owning a house on the bank of a lake, I feel like I understand Monet very well :p Giverny is such a beautiful place xx

    • I agree – a lovely dream. It seems that we are drawn to water – perhaps it is that we intuitively know that water is essential to survival.

      “Water is the driving force in nature.” Leonardo da Vinci

    • Thank you!!! The photos were taken in May, the time when the green is moving from light to dark green. It was a cloudy day with momentary sunshine, which also added vibrancy to the colours.

  7. I’m running a bit late in responding to some of these wonderful blogs such as yours, but publication a book takes more time than one would like.

    But Monet paintings, the Seine and the beauty of the content of your blog, on my home away from home France, will easily distract me from the final touches of book publishing. Thank you Rebecca for this and keeping rivers top of mind! JJ

    • Thank you, JJ, for your comments – you always give me a lift for my day. I am delighted to hear that you have completed the publication of your book. How exciting – I am celebrating. I was overwhelmed by Giverny. I came in May, but would love to see the garden in all seasons. I want to return….

      Have you noticed that every story has a river?

      • In retrospect, though until you brought it to my attention it hadn’t come to mind. But you are right, every story, one way or another, does have a river, and who but our astute Rebecca is there to remind us.
        Great thought!

      • You do make me smile!!! I have learned so much from this series of posts! The tragedy is that our rivers are in critical danger – wouldn’t it be wonderful if the story of our generation was that we saved them all…

    • I’m so excited for you!!! It gives perspective on the creative talent that is within each of us.

      “Every day I discover
      more and more
      beautiful things.
      It’s enough to drive one mad.
      I have such a desire
      to do everything,
      my head is bursting with it.”
      ― Claude Monet

  8. The life within the life of a garden or river or forest is magnificent. It speaks languages that only the heart of love and peace and oneness can hear. Monet always had a sense of conveying that love in his art.

  9. I visited Giverny some years back, and it really made a lasting impression. I like the way that Monet gave each room of the house a different theme. Since then, I’ve always wanted to do that. Hopefully, I’ll accomplish it soon.

    • I agree – there is something about Giverny that inspires us to strive for all things artistic! I wish you the very best in your creative endeavours!!!

      “I would advise young artists…to paint as they can, as long as they can, without being afraid of painting badly…” Claude Monet

      Thank you so much for stopping by!! Your comments are truly appreciated.

  10. You made my day, love all the pictures, they are simply beautiful! Monet is one of my favorite painters, and is true you cannot put meaning to art you just love it.

    “I am following Nature without being able to grasp her, I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” Claude Monet

    • I LOVE that quote! We owe a great deal to our dear Monet and his remarkable flowers. I think he would be pleased to know how much his garden has inspired creativity throughout the world…

      • I’m glad you like it!! Isn’t it interesting that works of beauty and love live past the lifetime of the creator. Reminds me of a quote by J.R.R. Tolkien.

        “The Road goes ever on and on
        Out from the door where it began.
        Now far ahead the Road has gone.
        Let others follow, if they can!
        Let them a journey new begin.
        But I at last with weary feet
        Will turn towards the lighted inn,
        My evening-rest and sleep to meet.”

        ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

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